The corruption card

PASOK’s adventure has come to an end. Political time, which had practically frozen after September 16, has resumed and people are wondering what will change with George Papandreou’s re-election. Some claim that Papandreou has emerged stronger. Despite the shock of defeat in the September vote, he managed to get back on his feet and make a comeback. He has proved himself to be politically courageous, a survivor. Those who are pro-Papandreou add that the Socialist leader scored extra points by lashing out against the vested interests that try to manipulate the political system. His ranting against entangled interests tainted the image of Evangelos Venizelos. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis’s example has shown that voters have a strong reflex against corruption. It remains to be seen whether Papandreou will be able to prove that he can distance himself from vested interests and, more importantly, if he is capable of taming them. For one thing, Karamanlis cannot be charged with not trying to take on murky dealings between politicians and business interests. Nevertheless, people wonder why the contractors that benefited during PASOK’s rule are still around while government officials cram into the waiting rooms of Karamanlis’s old-time foes. The risk for New Democracy is obvious: Papandreou could win the transparency game. Others are skeptical. People, they say, do not change after 40. The inability to leave a clear mark and pick the right aides will continue. Papandreou, they add, will soon repeat the same mistakes, before ending up hostage to unionists and other reactionary forces. The next few days will show whether we’re in for an improved Papandreou or stuck with the classic, post-2004 version. P.S. It would be good to know who financed the two campaigns and why. Voters have a right to know what interests backed the two top candidates.